A recent contest at Indiblogger(http://www.indiblogger.in/topic.php?topic=96)about how you could use social apps to encourage indian youth to vote made me think , why do people not vote?
2 major reasons came to my mind
- No interest
- Lack of good candidates
Though I was tempted to believe that point 2 was the major point, but it would be extremely wrong to assume that all politicians by all parties were corrupt. There are many many good people as well, though leadership may be rotten, but when it comes to small levels, some people do do work. MPs do matter.
So I am convinced that people do not vote because of lack of interest which basically stems from lack of knowledge.
So how do we tackle this issue?
One of the most powerful examples of youth coming out to vote has been Delhi elections ,where a new party AAP surprised everyone by winning 28 seats, what was more surprising was the fact that Delhi witnessed a record 66% voting.
Why did it happen? It happened because this time people were more engaged, engaged in discussions, engaged in debates, aware about the topics in hand, aware about issues and also which side they stood on.
It was not just AAP supporters but also AAP detractors, people who hated AAP, or who fervently supported congress and BJP that came out in large numbers to vote.All this because people were engaged
So the question arises, how do we engage people in meaningful conversations , because conversations lead to education which leads to desire to change and a desire to take charge of what is rightfully yours, your vote.
- Social Discussions based on location: How about WeChat discussion communities which link people anonymously(without exposing cell nos) based on their location and the topic of interest(some parts already there in the app) This might help them educate each other(peer learning), collaborate and spread the message if desired. When you know there are like minded people , it gives you courage to stand up, it also helps you educate yourself more and hence increases your buy-in. A higher buy-in directly results in a higher probability to vote. Also a location tag may help them take the discussions offline, where it matters most
- Trend Search: Twitter trends are very location specific, how about trend and hashtag matching based on users interests. A user would want to know what all is being said about the topic he/she is interested in , even though it is not among the trends. What all hashtags have been started to discuss the issue.
- Discussion Clubbing: When a discussion happens at place A and Place B, the knowledge is distributed. A system of clubbing the discussions to bring in the view points of both parties would be uselful. Eg: Ability to merge two conversations of WeChat.
Apart from these new ways , the existing ways of using facebook and blogs and whatapp to spread message, keep people updated , connect leaders and voters directly should be utilized.
The real question is not how do we get people to vote, but how do we get people to talk?